At the time of their arrest in Nyarurama village, Bugoba cell, Rukoma sector, they were also drinking alcohol.
The Southern region Police spokesperson Superintendent of Police (SP) Theobald said that the suspects were arrested during the operations to enforce the government directives on Covid-19.
"The group had gathered in a bar belonging to one Philbert Ntwari, contrary to the directives against Covid-19. Besides, all of them belong to a criminal ring that conducts illegal mining activities in Rukoma, and this was a target operation based on credible information that they were holding a meeting to plan the next move in their unlawful mining activities," SP Kanamugire said.
The group was also using minors in mining especially to wash and clean minerals in streams.
Article 54 of the law N° 58/2018 of 13/08/2018 on mining and quarry operations, states that; "any person, who undertakes mineral or quarry exploration, exploitation, processing or trading without a licence commits an offence."
Upon conviction, the offender is liable to imprisonment for a term of between two and six months and a fine of not less than Frw1 million and not more than Rwf5 million or only one of these penalties.
The court also orders confiscation of any seized minerals or quarry in storage, trading or processing without a license.
Article 166 of the law determining offenses and penalties in general states that any person convicted for theft is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year and not more than two years and a fine of not less than Rwf1 million and not more than Rwf2 million, community service in a period of six (6) months or only one of these penalties.
The group will also be fined for holding a social gathering contrary to the government directives against the spread of Covid-19.